New Delhi: In a major reform to India’s aviation sector, the government will launch a first-of-its-kind online portal through which clearance will be granted or denied to individuals and firms at airports in the country.
The current clearance mechanism is a long, multi-window procedure. Applicants—including foreign pilots, shops and catering agencies—need to visit aviation offices such as the airport operator, regional office, headquarters of the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS), office of the Directorate of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the civil aviation ministry. The process takes months and sometimes, more than a year, as the paperwork is huge and the process involves multiple correspondences. The applicants are required to submit five to 10 copies of the application form with documents to authorities.
Senior civil aviation ministry officials told The Sunday Standard that the online portal will make the process a single-window system, which will make the it quicker and transparent. The portal, which is likely to be launched next week, will let individuals and firms submit an application and view its progress online, sparing them visits to government offices.
An official explained that the portal would channelise the applications to one of the three authorities—civil aviation ministry, safety regulator DGCA or security regulator BCAS—depending upon their nature.
For instance, applications seeking site clearance of greenfield airports and heliports will be dealt by the ministry. Applications seeking security clearance for import/acquisition of aircraft for private use and foreign aircrew flying to India will be handled by the DGCA. BCAS will take care of applications seeking security clearance for concessionaires/business establishments intending to work in the Security Restricted Area (SRA) of an airport. It will also clear applications of catering firms supplying food to airlines, and that of ground-handling agencies seeking to operate at the airports.
DGCA, BCAS and the ministry will then forward the applications to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for background check of the applicants. Upon MHA’s response, the application will be disposed off within a stipulated time. To avoid flooding of frivolous applications, a comprehensive application form has been prepared.
Certain procedures such as inspection of the air catering agencies will be carried out only in physical form, according to a ministry official. The physical steps of giving security clearance will be made more stringent, considering global security threats to the aviation sector, he said.